Opinion: Daily Journal

New Legislative District Analysis

RALEIGH – I have just completed a second, more thorough review of the new Senate and House districts ordered by Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins. Unlike my previous analysis, conducted only hours after the judge’s ruling, I was able to supplement the available statistics on registration, race, and previous voting with other information such as city boundaries. I also retooled my model to look more closely at so-called “swing” seats in an attempt to estimate a general tilt in one or the other direction.

Basically, what I have found is that, if the Jenkins maps stand, we are looking at perhaps the most competitive legislative elections ever in North Carolina.

My new model groups districts into three categories: safe Democratic or Republican seats (where it would be virtually impossible for an opposing party to win under any circumstances); moderately Democratic or Republican seats (where the favored party can expect to win in normal circumstances but may lose in “surge” years like the Republican sweep in 1994); and swing seats where, depending on the issues and personalities involved, a district might go either way. I further pushed the swing seats, based on a variety of factors, to tilt either Democratic or Republican, though I freely admit that this is more an art than a science and that candidate filings and otherfactors could easily reverse the tilt.

Here’s how the districts came down in the Senate:

Safe Democratic – 16 seats

Moderately Democratic – 5 seats

Swing-Tilts Democratic – 4 seats

Safe Republican – 16 seats

Moderately Republican – 7 seats

Swing-Tilts Republican – 2 seats

As you can see, the Senate prospects appear absolutely deadlocked. Remember that a tie goes to the Democrats, given the vote of Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue (“remember me, I am relevant!”)

Here’s my analysis in the N.C. House:

Safe Democratic – 39 seats

Moderately Democratic – 8 seats

Swing-Tilts Democratic – 13 seats

Safe Republican – 42 seats

Moderately Republican – 10 seats

Swing-Tilts Republican – 8 seats

This analysis also yields a partisan deadlock at 60-60. I will say that I am none too sure of the “tilts” in at least four of these districts, so others may come to different conclusions.

Tomorrow I’ll describe in detail the races to watch to determine the likely outcome. Either party could win in November, despite what you may hear from exuberant Republicans or disgruntled Democrats.